Whistled languages – like ‘local cellular phones’ (study)

July 21st, 2017

“Whistled languages are a valuable heritage of human culture.” – explained a 2004 paper : ‘Bioacoustics of human whistled languages: an alternative approach to the cognitive processes of language’ (in : An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. vol.76 no.2, June 2004).

It was authored by Dr. Julien Meyer of the Laboratoire de Dynamique du Langage (DDL)-CNRS, Institut des Sciences de l’Homme (ISH), Lyon, France, and described a survey about a new multidisciplinary approach :

“Whistled languages can be regarded as a transposition of a given local language into a repertoire of whistles.“

The survey concluded that :

“ . . . whistled languages are products of human intelligence and not just curiosities or ‘surrogates’ in the pejorative sense. They show a widespread distribution across cultures and have obviously developed quite independently of each other, but mostly related to a particular local environment. They are quite clearly defined and represent an original adaptation of the spoken language, like a ‘local cellular phone’ for the needs of isolated human groups.”

Also do not miss : Les langues sifflées – from the Association de recherche Le Monde Siffle (The World Whistles Research Association) – which hosts audio examples from Mexico, Greece, Turkey, and of course the Canaries – home of ‘Le Silbo’ as pictured above.

Ig Nobel Tickets go on sale THURSDAY, JULY 20, at NOON

July 19th, 2017

Tickets for the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony go on sale THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2017, at noon (US eastern time). We expect (based on experience) the tickets will get snapped up quickly.

The Harvard Box Office handles all ticket sales. The physical ticket office [now in a temporary location in Farkas Hall, 10 Holyoke Street, Cambridge] is open some (but not all!) days from noon to 6 pm.Telephone (+1) 617-496-2222.
The web site is open 24 hours, every day.

Tickets: $75 / $65 / $55 / $35
Student tickets: $70 / $60 / $50 / $30
Ig Glorious tickets: $150. We fund the ceremony (theater rental, and half a zillion other expenses) mainly through ticket revenues. We are offering a few special “Ig Glorious” tickets, for persons who want to be specially supportive. Ig Glorious tickets come with special perks: Excellent seats; A vintage copy of the Annals of Improbable Research, signed by an emissary; Their photo taken at the Ig Nobel lectern on stage (before or after the ceremony, at the discretion of the Stage Manager); Access to our Ig Glorious Liaison, a staff member assigned to the “Ig Glorious” group for the entirety of the event; And a hearty handshake!

The ceremony will happen at the usual place.
WHERE: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University
WHEN: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017, 6:00 pm.
Ceremony details.

The Museum of Menstruation

July 18th, 2017

If you are, or ever have been, or ever might be involved with human reproduction, you will probably learn interesting things by visiting the Museum of Menstruation.

The museum currently exists online, and is looking for a physical home in or near New York City, a metropolis in which human reproduction is believed to occur with some frequency.

A visit to the world of the Ig Nobel Prizes

July 17th, 2017

Journalists from Mirror Media journeyed halfway around the world to visit Ig Nobel headquarters in Massachusetts (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3), and also visit an Ig Nobel Prize winner (Patricia Yang) at her lab in Georgia (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3). You can see and hear what they found, in two three-part reports and a short video.

BONUS INFO: Tickets for the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony go on sale this Thursday, July 20, exclusively from the Harvard Box Office.

BONUS: Here’s a Taiwanese animation about the Ig Nobel Prizes:

Interrupting people : the pros and cons

July 17th, 2017

What might you gain (or lose) by interrupting someone? The question has been experimentally examined by Professor Sally Dew Farley, of the Psychology department at the University of Baltimore, US. Experimental subjects who had been asked to discuss an article were systematically interrupted by confederates – revealing the following :


• The Upside for the Interrupters : “Interrupters gained in status and targets of interruption lost status.”

• The Downside for the Interrupters : “As expected, interrupters, especially female interrupters, were liked less than those who did not interrupt.”

Source: ‘Attaining Status at the Expense of Likeability: Pilfering Power Through Conversational Interruption.’ in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, Volume 32, Number 4, 241-260

Further resources:  A very comprehensive selection of scholarly papers about interruptions – from Adamczyk P. D. to Zou L. – can be found here.